AfAS celebrates 5 years since relaunch

Dear AfAS Members and Colleagues,

Today, we celebrate a remarkable milestone in our collective journey—a journey that began with the relaunch of the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) five years ago at the Astronomy in Africa meeting in Cape Town on 25-26 March 2019. This anniversary is not simply a reflection of time; rather, it is a testament to the resilience, dedication, and visionary approach that each one of us embodies. We extend our gratitude to the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) for their unwavering support, which has been crucial to our existence and sustainability. Thus, this five-year anniversary is a milestone we proudly share with them, recognising the collaborative spirit that has fueled our journey.

Five years ago, in Cape Town, a new star was born in the African skies—the African Astronomical Society. This was not just the rebirth of an organisation but a redefinition of astronomy in Africa since our foundation was laid with an ambitious aim to position astronomy as a pivotal science for socio-economic development across our continent.

Since then, our journey has been nothing short of memorable. We have navigated through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, adapted to new ways of connecting, and continued our quest for knowledge and collaboration. Our annual conferences, whether virtual or hybrid, have become beacons of learning, sharing, and camaraderie. The AfAS-2024 conference from 15 to 20 April in Marrakech, Morocco, marks our first annual conference outside of the host country of AfAS. 

Our strategic initiatives, from research support to educational and outreach programmes, are shaping the future of astronomy in Africa. We have built bridges with global astronomical communities, expanded our reach to new regions, and sparked the curiosity of the next generation of African astronomers.

As we celebrate this anniversary, let us also look forward to the XXXII IAU General Assembly 2024 —a historic event that will shine a global spotlight on Africa’s footprint in the global astronomy landscape.

In recognition of this special occasion, we are delighted to share a video recording from our President, Prof. Thebe Medupe, reflecting on our journey and envisioning our path ahead. This message encapsulates not only our achievements but also the challenges we embrace and the opportunities we foresee. The celebrations will not be limited to today; we shall share videos from the different committees leading to AfAS-2024, which will also highlight AfAS’s contribution to the development of astronomy and support of women within our astronomy community.

Let us all, as a united community, continue to reach for the stars, driven by our passion for astronomy and our commitment to Africa’s scientific and educational advancement.

Thank you for being an integral part of this journey. Here’s to many more years of exploration, development, and inspiration.

On behalf of the AfAS Executive Committee,

Participants of the Astronomy in Africa meeting in Cape Town, Mar 25-26, 2019